Interprofessional education (IPE) in health professions (HP) education has been shown to improve communication, enhance person-centered care, and improve patient outcomes.1,2 Interprofessional (IP) activities have the ability to foster values based learning, which is built upon students conceptualizing and internalizing subject matter relating to attitudes and emotions. 3,4 IP values based learning is an essential competency in healthcare education, and in geriatrics, helps to underscore the importance of meeting the psycho-spiritual and sociocultural needs deemed essential to comprehensive elder care. 5,6 Given the ability of IPE to affect individual points of view and the importance of fostering values based learning in elder care, it is worthwhile to investigate these constructs within the same learning activity. The purpose of this pilot study was to explore how an IP geriatrics learning module, centered on psychosocial aspects of aging, influences perspectives on aging and elder care among health professions students. The following research question was posed: How does participation in an interprofessional learning experience influence student perceptions about elder care?
A qualitative, instrumental, educational case study design was used. Case study research allows for the study of a group who experienced a common phenomenon.7 Students from physical therapy (PT) and physician assistant (PA) programs at a College of Health Sciences in the Northeast United States were purposefully recruited to participate in an IP learning activity as part of a geriatrics educational module. Data was collected through reflective papers that captured student perceptions about an in-class activity related to aging and elder care. Reflective papers were analyzed using first and second cycle coding. First cycle codes followed values coding methods, and created summarized segments of data. Second cycle codes grouped first code segments into categories. Categories were condensed to form themes.
Analysis of 44 reflection papers revealed the following major themes: 1.) Reinforces the value of dialogue 2.) Fosters perspective transformation, and 3). Reveals multi-dimensional nature of elder care. Data suggested that rich IP dialogue highlighted the importance of patient-centered communication, offered strategies for improved interactions, and helped to re-frame attitudes about aging. Additionally, elder care was seen as complex, with a need to balance biomedical and psychosocial factors and prioritize quality of life concerns.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
IPE designed to highlight the psychosocial aspects of patient care enabled PT and PA students to broaden their personal viewpoints on how to provide elder care that emphasizes quality of life and effective communication that leads to a positive patient experience. The interprofessional nature of the activity allowed for in depth insights to emerge. This pilot study suggests that IP values based learning modules should be included in geriatrics courses within health professions education.